NATO flag and alliance member flags flying in London's Parliament Square
News

Sitrep: British Army Joins NATO To Combat Disinformation

NATO Deputy Spokesperson Piers Cazalet told BFBS Sitrep how the military alliance is combating disinformation.

NATO flag and alliance member flags flying in London's Parliament Square

The spread of disinformation is about "sewing confusion and undermining democracy," NATO's Deputy Spokesperson has told BFBS’ Sitrep.

Piers Cazalet said the coronavirus pandemic "has given new opportunities to hostile actors," prompting NATO to start an initiative to fight back.

Now, a new initiative to defend states from disinformation has been bolstered by experts from the alliance’s members - including the UK.

Two members of the UK Armed Forces  are helping NATO observe current defences against such campaigns, with plans to "share best practice with other allies," Mr Cazalet said.

It comes after a scathing White House report on Chinese strategy - including "provocative and coercive" military activity in Asia.

The 20-page report also accused China of alleged disinformation campaigns and cyber hacking. 

An example used by Mr Cazalet involved the Chinese embassy in Paris tweeting about staff in French care homes abandoning their patients to "starvation and death”.

NATO has itself been hit by a disinformation campaign, he added.

A letter, supposedly signed by the Secretary General Jens Stoltengberg, said NATO would be withdrawing troops from Lithuania due to the coronavirus pandemic.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg was himself the subject of a disinformation attack (Picture: NATO).

“It was pure disinformation, there was no such letter, it had been forged and put out on networks,” Mr Cazalet said.

“One of the paradoxes we have is that as a democratic society, we are open, so we allow information to grow."

The spokesperson explained how the intentional spread of harmful information has worsened since 2014 and peaked during the COVID-19 pandemic - actors trying to "make the most" of vulnerabilities.

“It can affect people’s health, but also...it’s something which can undermine trust in governments, it can undermine trust in civil society, and for an alliance like NATO, it can sew division between allies."

You can hear the programme live on Thursdays on BFBS Radio 2 at 16:30 (UK time) and at 18:30 (UK time) BFBS via DAB+ across the UK. 

Listen online and via our radio App in the UK and overseas.  BFBS is also on FM in Scotland, Colchester, Salisbury Plain, Aldershot, Catterick, Brize Norton, Lisburn, Holywood, Aldergrove and Blandford Forum in the UK and on all overseas stations. 

On Sky Channel 0211/Freesat 786.

Cover image: PA.